The Volvo S60: manufactured at VCCs Ghent plant in Belgium and recently given a mid-life facelift

The Volvo S60: manufactured at VCC's Ghent plant in Belgium and recently given a mid-life facelift

Volvo Cars' new Chengdu plant in China's Sichuan province has begun building pre-production versions of the S60L, a special long wheelbase model.

"The new Volvo Chengdu plant is a full production plant including a press shop, body shop, paint shop and final assembly," a company spokesperson told just-auto.com. "In Chengdu, we are right now producing pre-production cars while the start of production of customer cars will take place during quarter four this year. The plant will then start delivering the new Volvo S60L, an extended version of the S60 sedan, tailor made for the Chinese market only".

The new car, a rival for BMW 3 Series Li, is expected to been seen for the first time at September's Chengdu motor show. The plant which builds it is said to be for C & D segment models (the XC60 and a new S40 are expected to be added in 2014). Volvo's third Chinese production facility, at Daqing in the country's northwest, will reportedly follow in 2016.

Daqing should be for larger models such as the S80L and XC90 replacements. This throws into question the future of VCC's involvement in the now split but originally Changan-Ford-Mazda joint venture in the city of Chongqing. A facility there has assembled small volumes of the S80L since 2009. A facelifted version of that car is expected imminently to bring it into line with the recently updated S80 model built in Sweden.